Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,
Thank you for the opportunity to address the APEC Energy Forum 2022.
At this important Forum, you will deliberate on energy transformation and access, climate cooperation post-COP27 and green economic recovery. These issues are crucial for APEC member economies as they confront the effects of the pandemic and geopolitical instability.
The Asia-Pacific region is home to six of the top 10 global greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters and six of the countries most affected by climate change in the world. The heavy concentration of the population in Asia and the high level of climate vulnerability in the Pacific exacerbate the socioeconomic impacts of climate change.
Thus, the region has a major responsibility to reduce the increasing vulnerability to climate change by rapidly moving towards low/zero carbon pathways and increasing investment in resilience.
Given the importance of this region in the global economy, its success in resolving these challenges will have a major bearing on global progress towards the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement.
Efforts towards achieving the energy transition in the region have been guided by Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7).
Progress varies between countries and across targets. We need to do much more on the adoption of renewables and energy efficiency. More attention to providing clean cooking fuels and technologies is required in many developing countries, in particular.
The pandemic has not made this task easier. It has set back progress across all SDGs and affected the fiscal space of developing countries, requiring them to make difficult prioritizations. This is now exacerbated by inflation, driven in part by increased energy and food prices sparked by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
SDG 7, rather than imposing an additional burden on countries, provides a sound framework for countries to adapt to higher energy prices.
By increasing energy efficiency in homes and businesses, the energy cost shock can be reduced. Renewable energy can decrease energy imports and hedge energy costs for consumers. The challenge for countries is to mobilize the clean energy response quickly when capital availability is challenging.
On climate change, we are currently faced with the sobering reality of how far off track we are from the 1.5 degree pathway.
As the United Nations Environment Programme Emissions Gap Report 2022, released just before COP27, highlights, there are no longer any credible pathways to limit warming to 1.5 degrees.
Across the Asia-Pacific region, we are seeing the effects of a future dominated by unrestrained climate change, such as devastating floods in Pakistan and drought in China.
We risk a disorderly transition into a future of successive climate change disasters - with developing countries most vulnerable - that may prove more and more difficult to recover from.
One area in which there is room for optimism is the green recovery. ESCAP has developed a framework for countries to build back better from the pandemic by focusing on four critical interconnected areas: broadening social protection, investing in a sustained recovery, strengthening connectivity and supply chains, and mending a broken relationship with nature.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are now being compounded by the war in Ukraine, adding more complexity to the response. However, despite the differing nature of these two crises, one thing is clear. By using the SDGs as a framework for recovery, countries and economies can build back better and enhance their resilience to future crises.
ESCAP is working with countries across the Asia-Pacific region on these issues, leveraging our role as a regional intergovernmental platform and a source of research, analysis and capacity building.
I hope this Forum will facilitate a frank exchange among APEC member economies on how we can work together to overcome these challenges.
Thank you very much.